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  • Super Rugby
  • Overall Group
  • 14th Mar 2014
  • KO 08:40
  • Ground: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Super Rugby preview: Melbourne Rebels v Crusaders

Last updated: 14th March 2014   Subscribe to RSS Feed

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Melbourne Rebels will look to rediscover winning form on Friday when the Crusaders visit AAMI Park in round five of the Super Rugby season.

Damien Hill's side endured a 32-7 defeat at the hands of compatriots Western Force last weekend, after winning their season curtain-raiser against the Cheetahs.

The Crusaders, who have not missed the knockout stages since 2001, have made a patchy start to their 2014 campaign, losing to defending champions Chiefs and the Blues before edging their way to a 14-13 victory over the Stormers last weekend.

There have only been two Super Rugby meetings between the sides and the most recent, in 2012, saw the Rebels record a historic victory made a spirited comeback and kept the Crusaders scoreless in the second period to claim victory.

The Rebels are not ready to allow room for complacency however, as former Wallabies half-back Andy Ellis insists they hold the Crusaders in high regard.

"We've talked this week about having a lot of respect for them," he said. "We really consider them one of the teams to beat.

"When you look at their stats right across their game, and especially in attack they're lethal."


Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has made one change to his starting XV and a number of positional switches ahead of their trip to Melbourne.

Ben Funnell starts at hooker this week instead of Corey Flynn, who is unavailable after suffering a fractured eye socket in last weekend's match, with Codie Taylor coming onto the bench as cover.

Nafi Tuitavake is the only player in the starting 15 who was not involved last week after recovering from a hamstring strain to take the right wing and Johnny McNicholl will take the left wing.

Andy Ellis takes the starting half-back spot again and, with Willi Heinz recovering from a calf injury, Mitchell Drummond has an opportunity to make his Crusaders debut if he comes off the bench.

Colin Slade move to first five for this game, which sees Tom Taylor shift out to second five and Ryan Crotty move into centre and Israel Dagg gets the No 15 jersey.

Rebels: 15 Woodward, 14 Mitchell, 13 Ellison, 12 Inman, 11 English, 10 Hegarty, 9 Burgess, 1 Smith, 2 Leafa, 3 Weeks, 4 Pyle, 5 Jones, 6 McMahon, 7 Fuglistaller, 8 Higginbotham (capt)

Replacements: 16 Horie, 17 Lahiff, 18 Alo-Emile, 19 Neville, 20 Fainga'a, 21 Meehan, 22 Roberts, 23 Veainu

Crusaders: 15 Dagg, 14 Tuitavake, 13 Crotty, 12 T Taylor, 11 McNicholl, 10 Slade, 9 Ellis, 1 Crockett, 2 Funnell, 3 Franks, 4 Romano, 5 S Whiteock, 6 L Whitelock, 7 Todd, 8 Read (capt)

Replacements: 16 C Taylor, 17 Perry, 18 Laulala, 19 Bird, 20 Taufua, 21 Drummond, 22 Fonotia, 23 Nadolo

You can see all the action from Melbourne as the Rebels take on the Crusaders live on Sky Sports 4 from 08:40am on Friday.

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Forthcoming Super Rugby Fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday 13th February
Super Rugby
06:35Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels
08:40Brumbies vs Reds
17:10Lions vs Hurricanes
Saturday 14th February
06:35Blues vs Chiefs
15:05Sharks vs Cheetahs
17:05Bulls vs Stormers
Sunday 15th February
06:05Waratahs vs Western Force
Friday 20th February
06:35Chiefs vs Brumbies
08:40Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs
17:10Bulls vs Hurricanes
Saturday 21st February
06:35Highlanders vs Crusaders
08:40Reds vs Western Force
15:05Stormers vs Blues
17:10Sharks vs Lions
Friday 27th February
06:35Highlanders vs Reds
11:00Western Force vs Hurricanes
17:10Cheetahs vs Blues
Saturday 28th February
06:35Chiefs vs Crusaders
08:40Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies
15:05Bulls vs Sharks
17:10Lions vs Stormers
Friday 6th March
06:35Chiefs vs Highlanders
08:40Brumbies vs Western Force
Saturday 7th March
06:35Blues vs Lions
08:40Reds vs Waratahs

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Phil Edwards

Phil Edwards

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